How A Recent Google Algorithm Leak Impacts Contractors And Home Service Companies

The impact of a recent Google Algorithm leak on contractors and home service providers
Chris Lonergan
Chris Lonergan May 29, 2024

A leak of internal documentation from Google has had the SEO world spinning. Without getting super technical, these API reference docs are the guide that developers use to interact with specific code and programming.

The docs in question are essentially a partial Google algorithm leak about how Google Search works.

So what can we learn from the Google algorithm leak, and how does it impact websites for small businesses, contractor marketing services, and contractors like you?

No - This Isn't The Guideline To How To Exploit Google

To be clear, this isn't like having the recipe to immediately game the system. It is a limited view of specific chunks of documentation. That being said, these were clearly not meant for public consumption.

As initially brought to light by Rand Fishkin (most popularly of Moz) and Mike King (from iPullRank), these major players in the SEO world, as well as others in the tech community, have vetted this information as very much appearing to be legitimate Google documentation.

This leaked data doesn't have the exact methods for how Google scores and rates one piece of content over another. It does, however, provide insight into ranking factors - which is a pretty big deal.

Key Takeaways From The Google Algorithm Leak

We'll boil things down to a few interesting points from the documentation that any small business owner could understand

  • Domain Authority — While the term "DA" and "Domain Authority" was most popularly attributed to Moz in their SEO software, Google's documentation makes reference to "siteAuthority" - which we assume is more or less the same thing.
  • CTR, Pogo-Sticking, and Dwell Time — The docs refer to a variety of "click" tracking, including badClicks, goodClicks, lastLongestClicks, and more. The language suggests that such tracking information and click-through rates could be used to determine the quality of a result. If someone clicks on the link, visits that website, and goes back to the search results to find another site - that is "pogo-sticking," a suggestion that the content didn't answer the user's question. Conversely, if someone clicks on a link, visits that site, and stays for a while reading, watching a video, viewing images, etc., - that could suggest that the content was in line with the user's intent and provided the answer they were looking for.
  • Quality Rater Feedback In The Algorithm — To test and track algorithm updates, Google uses Quality Raters (mostly human, though now including AI services) to assess the quality of search by following "Quality Rater Guidelines" as an evaluation document. Part of the leak suggests that the feedback from these quality raters may have been used more directly in the math and formulation of the scoring of content instead of just being used as feedback for how to adjust the algorithm.
  • Google Tracks Authorship — Google previously went all in on "Authorship" a few years ago, but when SEOs spammed it too much, it removed the on-page SERP headshot and byline. While that part of the search engine results page went away, the leaked Google documentation does specifically have a way to ascertain and track the author of a piece of content on a website. This may be a further demonstration of E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) as weighing in for both quality raters and the algorithm itself.

As pointed out by Mike King and many other SEOs that have been dissecting this information, there is a lot here that Google previously denied was a consideration or factor - either via inference or outright statements. Google spokespeople have specifically said things like dwell time doesn't exist, that they don't use clicks directly in ranking, that domain authority is not a consideration, etc.

So What Does My Website Have To Do To Take Advantage

There is still a lot of analysis being done, and people are taking the time to comb through the documentation.

At the end of the day, Footbridge Media's recommendations remain the same. To address some of the previous points above directly…

Domain Authority

You get domain authority over time by having a website that is reputable, as demonstrated by traffic to your content and appropriate website links. This aligns with our recommendations.

CTR, Pogo-Sticking, & Dwell Time

You can have better CTR with properly worded titles and good content. You avoid pogo-sticking and increase the potential for dwell time by answering your client questions and concerns with content that addresses a prospective customer's needs, like in service pages, city pages, and project pages. This aligns with our recommendations.

Abiding By Quality Guidelines

The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines boil down to having content that appears to be reputable, as presented by a reputable source, with the appropriate website structure. That includes everything from customer reviews as a reputation guideline, having contact and about us type content present, and quality content that demonstrates your experience and expertise. This aligns with our recommendations.


Demonstrating your company's experience and expertise by posting project content, using pictures of your actual work and appropriate support text and testimonial content is key to demonstrating your website's and brand's authenticity.

So the TL;DR of this is simple - Google doesn't always tell the truth, but if you want to play the game, your only option is to commit to creating the content and site structure that meets the user's intent.

A properly fleshed-out website that addresses your customers' questions is more important than trying to game a system for short-term success.

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